Maine Ophthalmologist Samuel Solish, M.D. of Eyecare Medical Group in Portland commented on eye health, contact lens wear and swimming. “Understanding how swimming can affect your eyes, eye health and vision is good to know this time of year as summer typically means lots of water activities for all of us”, said Dr. Solish. “Some things to consider include that unless you are wearing goggles it is best not to swim with your eyes open under water and, when possible, to avoid splashes of water into your eyes. The many types of pool chemicals that are used to keep pool water clean and free of contamination may actually be irritating to your eyes and in some instances can actually cause damage to the surface of the eye.” Dr. Solish further explained.
Maintaining the proper pH levels in swimming pools takes considerable monitoring and effort and as the pH varies so does the possibility of eye irritation. Your natural tears have a pH of 7.0, if the pH of the pool water is below or above that level that level, it will certainly cause your eyes to burn or sting. The proper pH level for swimming pools is in the range of 7.2 to 7.8. If the pH is maintained within this range, burning eyes shouldn't be a problem for swimmers.
“The literature is quite definitive that swimming with contact lenses can pose a real risk. The eye health risk of swimming with contacts somewhat depends on the body of water you are in. We have access to the ocean, lakes and rivers throughout Maine. Lake and river swimming is particularly risky because of the possibility of the microorganism Acanthamoeba adhering to your contacts.
Acanthamoeba Keratitis is a severe and potentially blinding infection and inflammation of the cornea. This same risk is present when wearing contacts in hot tubs or spas,” Dr. Solish stressed. While the risk of sight threatening infection is lesser in properly chlorinated swimming pools and the ocean, other problems may be encountered. In the pool--eye irritation is possible when chlorine sticks on the surface of your lens and in the ocean--your contact lenses can be dislodged when you encounter large waves. You need to carefully consider whether to wear contact lenses while swimming. Keeping your head out of the water and wearing goggles will help to greatly reduce risk. If you worry about not being able to see clearly without glasses or contacts and want to see clearly while in the pool or ocean, you may wish to consider LASIK as a vision correction method so as not to be dependent on eyeglasses or contacts for swimming. If you or someone you know has questions about swimming, swimming pools, eye health, vision and contact lenses please feel free to call Eyecare Medical Group at 888-374-2020, visit www.eyecaremed.com or facebook.com/eyecaremedicalgroup.
Eyecare Medical Group is a leading ophthalmology practice in Portland, Maine staffed by a team of eye care specialists including eye doctors who are fellowship trained glaucoma specialists, retina specialists, cornea specialists and cataract and lens implant specialists-all board certified Ophthalmologists-as well as Optometrists, Opticians, technical and administrative staff who provide eye examinations for adults and children, cataract surgery and intraocular lens implants, (IOL), laser vision correction such as LASIK, diagnosis and treatment of cornea disease including cornea transplants, care for diseases of the retina including diabetes and age related macular degeneration and diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma.